Queen Elizabeth II has managed to make the British Royalty what most of the world thinks of when they think about Royal Families. When she turned 90 in 2016, 76 percent of British Adults were in favor of keeping the monarchy and 75 percent said that the monarchy has an important role to play in the future. Compare that to British Prime Minister Theresa May's approval rating of 34 percent.
Why is the Queen so popular when politicians struggle? While there are lots of reasons, I was struck by one as I watched the second season of Netflix's The Crown. Now, the rest of this article will have some spoilers in it, although since it's historically based, I don't feel too guilty sharing them. Nevertheless, you have been warned.
In episode 5 we meet John Grigg, also known as Lord Altrincham. He called Queen Elizabeth II a "priggish schoolgirl," and generally criticized her and the monarchy for being too upper class and disconnected from the regular people.
As a journalist, he published an article criticizing a speech the Queen gave and he landed on a British television show where he said he supported the Monarchy itself but needed to criticize the Queen because she was the boss and, therefore responsible for the tone-deaf practices of her staff. "You have no choice but to criticize the boss. Only the boss can get rid of bad servants. She hires them and she alone can fire them. It's her responsibility."
It's a pretty harsh criticism, and many people would not want to hear that about themselves. In fact, many bosses have no interest in hearing harsh criticism of themselves and their key staff members, sometimes going to great lengths protect them. But, the Queen did something different: She listened.
The Crown portrays the Queen as having a private meeting with Lord Altrincham where she listened to him, without much emotion, but giving him the opportunity to speak and didn't back down from his criticism, saying, "I'm quite sure this needed saying." The meeting may or may not have happened in real life, but regardless, Buckingham Palace changed after Altrincham's public criticisms.
The Queen began broadcasting her Christmas message on television, rather than radio, and she reached out more to the ordinary people, rather than strictly mingling with people in the upper classes.
Often when we're confronted with criticism, our first instinct is to defend ourselves against the attack, especially when the attack comes from someone who doesn't know as much as we know ourselves. The Queen knew the monarchy inside and out, and she had the support of staff and family who knew what they were doing, and along comes an outsider who says, "Hey, you're doing this wrong."
It would have been easy to dismiss him, but she didn't. She listened, evaluated his suggestions, and made changes. The result is a wildly popular monarchy that is much different today than in the past. The monarchy that Elizabeth took over 70 years ago would never have allowed Prince Harry to marry a divorced, Black American, but she changed with the times, and it is definitely for the better.
When you're confronted with criticism, consider if the person knows about an area where you or your team lacks knowledge, and then consider making changes. It may save your company, the same the way taking criticism helped the Queen save the Monarchy,